Goldilocks Golf Communities:
Not too close, not too far, from civilization
By Larry Gavrich, Founder & Editor,
Home On The Course, LLC
You spent most of your life and career living and working in the city or suburbs. In retirement, your goal is to be away from traffic, pollution, noise and the general hubbub of urban or near urban living.
For a golfing retiree, there are plenty of choices somewhere out there, far from cities or even good-sized towns. But be careful what you wish for because, at some point, you are going to miss having a choice of supermarkets, a movie theater within 20 minutes and all the other conveniences you have always counted on.
Yet, in some of the highest quality golf communities in the Carolinas, you can have it all – a quiet place to live and a relatively short drive to the services you came to expect in your earlier life.
Here are just a few examples of some of the best such golf communities in the Carolinas – and one in Georgia – that define the notion of so close and yet so far from the big city.
Perhaps the best example of a Goldilocks community (except for The Landings, see below), Landfall is located behind a guarded gate just 10 minutes from downtown Wilmington and even closer, via the community’s back gate, from the active Wrightsville Beach. The golf is superb and challenging, 45 holes in all by Jack Nicklaus and Pete Dye. And, given its location and full range of amenities, real estate is surprisingly reasonable, with homes starting at $379,000.
Even though you are reading this in a publication dedicated to Carolina-oriented information, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share our intel about a golf community that has virtually everything, including a location just 20 minutes from downtown (and just as close to South Carolina). Private and large behind its guarded gates, The Landings features six impeccably manicured golf courses, every conceivable amenity of a top-quality community, multiple clubhouses and nearly 8,000 full-time and seasonal residents who enjoy the more than 100 social clubs on site.
Don’t be fooled by the community’s 4,800-acre size; developers smartly divided the community into discrete neighborhoods that give the 40-year old Landings a mature, lived-in and intimate feel. Importantly, residents govern the community and golf clubs, adding a strong note of financial stability to the list of reasons for considering a life at The Landings.
St. Helena Island, SC
All you need is to make that initial few-mile drive through the gates and into Dataw Island to know that you are totally isolated from the outside world.
But, in reality, behind those gates you are only 20 minutes from two important perquisites craved by coast-oriented retirees and vacation home owners – the charming, full-service small city of Beaufort (pronounced byoo-fert) and a beautiful and clean Atlantic Ocean beach at Hunting Island State Park.
Dataw’s two 18-hole golf courses take full advantage of the surrounding marshland, both strong and imaginative layouts by Tom Fazio and Arthur Hills. All other golf community amenities you expect are fully in place and supported by an engaged group of residents who tend to venture off-site only for a meal at one of Beaufort’s excellent restaurants or the sandy beach at Hunting Island.
Daniel Island, SC
Talk about hidden in plain sight, Daniel Island is wedged in between the rapidly growing suburb of Mt. Pleasant, SC, and the ever historic, ever popular and super culinary city of Charleston. But Daniel Island, though bisected overhead by an Interstate highway, is a true island, albeit one with plenty of shopping, schools, offices, restaurants, a major tennis stadium and two championship golf courses by Rees Jones and Tom Fazio. And we don’t use the term “championship” lightly; the Jones course was the former site of the season ending tour championship of the Web.com Tour.
At just 20 minutes from Charleston, and half that time to Charleston’s modern and fully functional airport, Daniel Island residents can feel urbane without feeling too urban.
Cliffs at Mountain Park
Travelers Rest, SC
For golfers who don’t mind driving an hour or so for the love of the game, The Cliffs offers so many options it may be hard to choose among them. A string of eight communities mostly in upstate South Carolina, and one in the Asheville, NC, area, The Cliffs provides seven carefully tended and diverse golf courses and among the most lush amenities available anywhere. It is a bit pricey at $50,000 to join, but if you can afford it, you won’t be disappointed.
The Cliffs at Mountain Park is located less than 20 minutes from the award-winning city of Greenville, a center of culture and good restaurants and the beautiful campus of Furman University. The Mountain Park golf course by Gary Player provides about as much fun as any layout in the Southeast as it winds its way along and over the Saluda River; one hole with a par 5 with a tall tree at dead center of the fairway isn’t quite as weird as it sounds.
Local residents will tell you that noted golf architect Tom Fazio personally picked out the property that would become the well-regarded Champion Hills, about 15 minutes from Hendersonville and well inside an hour from perhaps the most popular mountain town in the east, Asheville.
Fazio’s swirling up and down layout is consistently ranked in the top 10 of all courses in the golf-rich state and is beloved by all golfers save for those who insist on walking. Many of the homes inside the gates reflect the mountain-orientation of the local topography, with million-dollar views from homes starting well under $1 million.
Daufuskie Island, SC
This is a bit of a cheat in that, as the crow flies, Haig Point is a relatively short distance from Hilton Head Island and Savannah, GA. But no crow will fly you between Daufuskie and the mainland; instead, you will have to use the community’s efficient and frequently used ferry to do your shopping and for any off-island entertainment and doctor’s appointments.
Of all the communities noted here, Haig Point is by far the most secluded and, yet, offers all the major amenities of a top golf community, including 29 holes by Rees Jones, excellent dining options, and beautiful views across the Calibogue Sound to Hilton Head and the ocean beyond from both the golf course and beach club.
For those who truly want to leave the rest of civilization behind, except for a few neighbors who feel likewise, Haig Point defines splendid isolation.
(Note: Much of the same can be said of Bald Head Island, a ferry ride from charming Southport, NC, although Bald Head is more of a resort, especially in summer.)
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